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Statement on Open Expression

February 24, 2015

Dear Students,

Emory University is committed to an environment where the open expression of ideas and open, vigorous debate and speech are valued, promoted, and encouraged. We are reminded again this week of these important principles as our community members express their viewpoints regarding issues related to Israel and Palestine. 

On Sunday, February 22, 2015, perpetrators destroyed a demonstration wall display, constructed by the Emory Students for Justice in Palestine (ESJP) outside of the Dobbs University Center. The destruction of the display runs counter to our community’s commitment to debate and dialogue.  Emory University unequivocally affirms that our community members have the right to open expression without interference. 

The Emory Police Department is currently investigating the incident. The Bias Incident Response Team and Open Expression Committee have also been made aware of the incident.

The demonstration wall is an exercise of the right to open expression, a right ensured to every member of our university community by the Respect for Open Expression Policy, in keeping with our community values. The right to open expression applies to all members of our university community, whose perspectives collectively span the spectrum of viewpoints.  

At the same time, we understand that – while the demonstration wall is an expression of free speech – it may be painful for some members of the Emory community. We ask all members of our community to weigh these responsibilities carefully when exercising their right to open expression. Let us deliberate ideas, ideologies, and policies with which we disagree, rather than target individuals or groups with whom we disagree.

We also want members of our community who are struggling with issues to know that the university offers resources. Please see the list below for assistance and/or additional information.

Members of the Emory community are committed to an inclusive and open community that values the free exchange of ideas among all its members. If you are interested in helping us enhance our sustained dialogue initiatives, please contact Ed Lee, a senior staff member in Campus Life and Director of Debate for the Barkley Forum Center for Debate Education, at ewlee@emory.edu

I urge you to honor our principles of open expression and to celebrate the engagement of our community members in one of the world’s most challenging issues.

Sincerely,

Ajay Nair
Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life

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Available Resources

Policy 8.14, Respect for Open Expression
http://policies.emory.edu/8.14 

Committee for Open Expression
http://www.senate.emory.edu/home/committees/Open%20Expression.html 

Counseling and Psychological Services
1462 Clifton Road, Suite 235
404.727.7450
http://studenthealth.emory.edu/cs/

Office of Spiritual and Religious Life
Dobbs University Center, Suite E226
404.727.6225
http://www.religiouslife.emory.edu/

Bias Incident Reporting Process
http://www.emory.edu/CAMPUS_LIFE/sis/bias_incident_protocol/index.html

Bias Response Team
http://www.emory.edu/CAMPUS_LIFE/sis/bias_incident_protocol/team.html